LA NORIA ***** Spain 2018 Dir: Carlos Baena. 12 mins
Writer-director-editor Carlos Baena has worked in animation for two decades with Industrial Light and Magic and Pixar, which means that his C.V. includes titles like TOY STORY and JURASSIC PARK. LA NORIA, made in collaboration with over 100 other international artists, is from his own production outfit NightWheel Pictures and made after Baena co-founded animation platform Artella.
The set-up is simple, the execution often breathtakingly beautiful. A small, melancholic boy with big, teary eyes, finds solace in his button-eyed teddy bear while missing his recently deceased father beyond words. He is pursued and threatened around his house by an array of terrifying, other-worldly creatures, but the emotional union between their worlds provides the movie with its enormous heart.
A study of childhood grief and fear filtered through a Del Toro-inspired world of monsters and clockwork, this is a brilliantly designed celebration of the monstrous – with jaw-dropping production design and camerawork: one nightmarish 360 degree is a prominent stand-out and a photographic montage of memories will melt your heart. It shifts between pure terror and kindness with ease as the juvenile protagonist finds solidarity with beings most adults would immediately shun. Johan Soderqvist’s gorgeous melodic score provides an appropriate accompaniment. Baena is currently set up at Paramount Pictures and his future filmmaking career seems assured.
Review by Steven West